General Jubal Early. Image Source: Virginia Museum of History and Culture.
General Jubal Early (1816–1894) rose to the rank of Lieutenant General in the Confederate Army during the Civil War (1861—1865).
Virginia seceded from the Union on April 17, 1861, Jubal Early remained loyal to his home state and he accepted a commission as a Brigadier General in the Virginia Militia. Confederate officials soon promoted him to the rank of Colonel in the Regular Confederate Army. He eventually reached the rank of Lieutenant General. Early fought in most of the major battles in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, including the Seven Days Battles, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. Early also led a raid into Eastern Pennsylvania that threatened Washington, D.C.
When Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House (April 9, 1865), Early donned a disguise and traveled to Texas, hoping to continue the war. When those efforts failed, Early fled to Mexico and then to Canada, choosing not to live under Northern rule.
General Jubal Early in the Civil War — 1861
- Jubal Early was a delegate to the Virginia Convention of 1861 and voted against Virginia seceding from the Union. However, he was in the minority and Virginia seceded from the Union on April 17, 1861.
- Early accepted a commission as a Brigadier General in the Virginia Militia and quickly was promoted to the rank of Colonel in the Confederate Army.
- He became a regimental commander in 1861.
- Early was promoted to Brigadier General after the First Battle of Bull Run (July 21, 1861).
General Jubal Early in the Civil War — 1862
- General Early was wounded at the Battle of Williamsburg (May 5, 1862).
- During the Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), Early assumed command of his division when his commander, Alexander Lawton, was wounded.
- During the Battle of Fredericksburg, he reversed early Union successes by counterattacking General George G. Meade’s division, which had penetrated Confederate lines under command of General Stonewall Jackson.
General Jubal Early in the Civil War — 1863
- Early was promoted to Major General on January 17, 1863.
- In June 1864, General Robert E. Lee promoted Early to the temporary grade of Lieutenant General and placed him in charge of the newly created Army of the Valley.
- On June 28, 1863, General Early’s forces entered York County, Pennsylvania. Early captured York, making it the largest Northern town to fall to the Confederates during the war.
- On June 28, 1863, troops under Early’s men reached the Susquehanna River, the farthest east in Pennsylvania that any organized Confederate force would penetrate.
General Jubal Early in the Civil War — 1864
- Early commanded the last invasion of the North during the American Civil War when the Army of the Valley reached the outskirts of Washington. D.C. on July 11 and 12, 1864.
- Although Early’s July 1864 offensive caused considerable panic in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, he was forced to withdraw before entering either city, when faced with mounting Union reinforcements.
- Early defeated the Union army under Brig. Gen. George H. Crook at the Second Battle of Kernstown (July 24, 1864).
- Union General Ulysses S. Grant put an end to Early’s guerrilla attacks by sending an army under the command of General Philip Sheridan into the Shenandoah Valley in August 1864. With an army that outnumbered Early nearly three to one, Sheridan defeated the Army of the Valley at the Battle of Opequon (September 19, 1864), the Battle of Fisher’s Hill (September 21–22, 1864), and the Battle of Cedar Creek (October 19, 1864).
General Jubal Early in the Civil War — 1865
- In Early’s last command as a Confederate general, Union General Philip Sheridan decisively defeated the remnants of the Army of the Valley at the Battle of Waynesboro (March 2, 1865).
- On March 30, 1865, General Lee relieved Early of his command.
- Following Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House (April 9, 1865), Early fled to Texas, hoping to continue resistance against the Union. Unable to find an adequate number of soldiers willing to continue fighting, he eventually traveled to Mexico, Cuba, and Canada.